The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

City commission hears clean-up cost estimates

 


By RALPH ANSAMI

ransami@yourdailyglobe.com

Ironwood — The Ironwood City Commission heard rough estimates Monday about the possible costs connected with the 2012-13 clean-up of the former gasification plant in the Flats.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and city have been negotiating for the past few years about how much the city owes for the removal of tar in the soil near the Montreal River in a project that also involved the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

The city commission previously approved a “tolling agreement” with the EPA that allows negotiations to continue. The negotiations were extended when no agreement was reached.

On Monday, city manager Scott Erickson said while the total cost of the gas plant project was $3 million, the city won’t be required to foot the entire bill.

Erickson said an “inability to pay analysis” is under way and he’s hopeful federal officials will keep the amount as low as possible.

He said the city could pay as low as $20,000, although the final figure hasn’t been determined.

“We’re hoping it’s on the lower end,” he said.

It’s the first time in public, financial figures have been connected to the clean-up effort.

Bill Martell, a candidate for the city commission this fall, asked about the cost of the clean-up costs in addressing matters not on the commission’s regular meeting agenda.

The former Ironwood Manufactured Gas Plant was located on the northwest corner of Hemlock and West Ayer streets, near the present Fahrner Excavating business.

The large plant produced and distributed gas to both Ironwood and Hurley until the late 1950s.

Contamination from coal tar produced at the plant was discovered during an inspection for a Poplar Street bridge construction project on the Montreal River, necessitating the EPA project.

 
 

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